Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP approves petition on referendum

FINE TUNING More than half the party's legislators approved a petition that the DPP caucus' draft should force lawmakers to carry out changes proposed by referendum

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A petition initiated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) urging the DPP caucus to modify a draft referendum law has been endorsed by a majority of the party's legislators, an aide of Trong said yesterday.

Chai received the backing of more than 50 of the 89 DPP legislators for his proposal to alter the caucus' draft law. The petition suggests that two articles in the draft bill should be revised to better reflect the DPP's referendum policy, the aide said.

"The changes were proposed in line with the ideals expressed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Saturday," Chai said.

He said the DPP's version states that legislators should file a proposal to amend the Constitution within six months if this is requested in a referendum, but that a three-quarter majority of legislators is required before constitutional changes can be made.

The opposition's draft referendum bill includes a similar restriction, which has been criticized by the president.

Chai proposes that the three-quarters requirement should be removed from the DPP draft and that the draft should be amended to force the government to implement changes within one year after a referendum result.

"A referendum resolved to halve seats of the legislature will be superfluous if the result requires cooperation from the Legislative Yuan and a special National Assembly," he said.

Chai also proposed that the possibility of altering the nation's name, flag, anthem and territory by means of referendum should be explicitly stated in the draft law. The current version only refers to holding referendums on issues of major national interest.

After ruling and opposition lawmakers agreed to an end-of-the-month deadline to pass the referendum law last week, Chen said he was planning to meet with leaders of the DPP caucus soon to discuss the petition with them.

In a related development, a civil alliance formed by a number of academic groups yesterday vowed to monitor legislators as they formulate the referendum law.

"Members of the Alliance for Monitoring Referendum Legislation (公投立法監督聯盟) recognize the significance of referendum lawmaking. We therefore decide to monitor lawmakers' work on the referendum legislation," said Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), deputy chairman of the Northern Taiwan Society (台灣北社).

Chen said that the alliance hopes a final referendum law would not place restrictions on referendums.

The alliance believes that lawmakers should not place restrictions on referendums occurring on the same date as presidential elections, Chen said.

The alliance proposes that the government should be allowed to initiate referendums, since the goal of a referendum is to counter inefficiency in the representative system, Chen said.

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